Spanish PM seeks to run minority government if coalition talks fail
Acting Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy has said he hopes his conservative Popular Party can form a strong, four-year coalition government - or be allowed to run a minority one and avoid fresh elections.
Mr Rajoy reiterated his offer to link up with the centre-left Socialists, who came second in Sunday's re-run election, or fourth-placed business-friendly Ciudadanos, although both have already said they will not back him.
He said that if the other political groups do not want to join him, "I hope they at least let the party that won take office even though it would do so in difficult circumstances".
The Popular Party won 137 seats in the repeat election but again fell short of capturing the majority in the 350-seat parliament that put it in power in 2011.
It was the country's second inconclusive election in six months. Mr Rajoy won in December too but no other major party would help him form a government, a political scenario that may be repeated this time and leave Spain with his caretaker government for many more months.
Mr Rajoy, who is expected to launch fresh negotiations this week, said a third election would be "madness".
The newly elected deputies will take their seats on July 19, after which King Felipe VI will consult party leaders and nominate one to try to form a government.
Following the December election, Mr Rajoy renounced the opportunity to even try to form a government. This time he is expected to accept if the king proposes him.
He would then face a parliamentary vote of confidence. In a first vote, he would need majority but if he fails to achieve that he would only need more votes in favour than against in a second vote.
However, without the support or abstention of the Socialists, who have 85 seats, and Ciudadanos - with 32 - the bid would almost certainly fail.